Government underfunding of child welfare services is putting children and families at risk, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. While this Liberal Government has passed legislation, through Bill 210, that’s focused on the restructuring of child welfare services to promote best practices — they are not funding it.
CUPE Local 841.5 will rally at the constituency office of MPP Steve Peters, Speaker of the House, at Talbot and White Streets on Thursday, July 3 at noon, to ask the McGuinty Liberals to increase funding, and to draw attention to the many issues facing child protection workers because of chronic provincial underfunding.
The Ministry is asserting child welfare funding has increased while service volumes have fallen. However, this fails to acknowledge the increased expectations that have been imposed on agencies and front line staff. While these new policies and protocols are good for children and families, the sector cannot implement them without appropriate prevention and support programs, and adequate staffing.
“At this point, we have a waiting list of 32 families for support services alone, with issues that range from mental health challenges, appropriate discipline and boundaries in the home, to basic things like nutrition and cleanliness,” said Todd Rowley, Unit Chair of Local 841.5. “The reality is the amount of direct contact with children and families have decreased among protection workers due to administrative requirements — this is not good for the children and families that we work with and it is only making a situation more difficult for those on the wait list.”
Programs at many agencies are in danger because of the Ministry’s requirement for all agencies to submit balanced budgets and we are beginning to see layoffs and programming cuts around the province.
“In our agency, we are concerned about non-mandated programs such as Mom’s and Tots, Dad’s and Tots, foster care support and crucial programs like parenting groups,” Rowley continued. “These preventative programs are aimed at strengthening families and keeping children in their homes, but basic parenting groups, the courses to help teach fundamental parenting skills, are not funded.”
CUPE is calling on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to adequately fund the child welfare sector so that the change agenda legislated by this government can be implemented most effectively.
For further information, contact:
Todd Rowley, Unit Chair of CUPE 841.5 519-777-3959
Kathy Johnson, CUPE Social Services Coordinator – Ontario 416-272-6698